40 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Rubik’s Cube

The insanely addictive puzzle is 40 this year. Happy Birthday!

You probably noticed today’s Google Doodle right?

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1. Rubik’s Cube is 40 years old!

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2. In 1974, a young professor of architecture in Budapest created an apparently impossible object.

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3. The first Magic Cube (as it was originally known) was sold in a Budapest toy shop in 1975.

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4. The puzzle is made up of twenty-six miniature cubes, known as “cubies” or “cubelets”.

commons.wikimedia.org / Wikimedia Commons

Each cublet includes an ingenious hidden internal mechanism that somehow allows the cubes to interlock with their neighbours and move in different directions.

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5. The Magic Cube was renamed Rubik’s Cube in 1980.

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6. Rubik wanted a working model to help explain three-dimensional geometry.

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7. It took him well over a month to work out the solution to his puzzle.

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8. Rubik’s solid cube twisted and turned - and yet did not break or fall apart. Some people are still trying to work it out.

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9. It won Toy of the Year in 1980 and 1981.

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10. Over 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold worldwide – making it the bestselling toy of all time.

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11. A Rubik’s Cube has 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible configurations.

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12. With six coloured sides, 21 pieces and 54 outer surfaces, there’s a combined total of over 43 QUINTILLIOIN different possible configurations.

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13. If you turned Rubik’s Cube once every second it would take you 1400 TRILLION YEARS to finish to go through all the configurations.

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14. If you had started this project during the Big Bang, you still wouldn’t be done yet.

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15. Yet, amazingly, the best speed cubers* can solve the cube in under six seconds.

Speed cubers = people who take part in speed cubing – a sport where competitors try and solve the cube as quickly as possible.

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16. The current world record holder is Mats Valk from the Netherlands. Who completed the puzzle in 5.55 seconds.

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17. He was pretty happy!!!

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18. This beat the previous record of 5.66 seconds held by Australia’s Feliks Zemdegs.

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19. Some speed-cubers go for style points over raw speed.

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20. This guy took a whole 25 seconds. But he was doing one-handed push-ups AT THE SAME TIME!

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21. Another dude took 28.80 seconds to solve the puzzle BLINDFOLDED!

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22. A three-year-old in China solved the puzzle in under two minutes.

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23. And then there’s this guy, clocking in at ten minutes, using his nipple. Oh, internet.

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24. Smartphone-powered Lego robots can solve Rubik’s Cube faster than humans.

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25. Earlier this year CubeStormer 3 solved a Rubik’s Cube in 3.253 seconds!

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26. Hell, even Mantis Shrimp can do the puzzle.

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27. In 1981, You Can Do The Cube by Patrick Bossert sold 1.5m copies.

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28. The first annual International Rubik’s Championships were held in 1982.

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29. The winner was Minh Thai (USA) with a relatively slow (compared to modern times) solve of 22.95 seconds.

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30. Every legal permutation of the Rubik’s Cube can be solved in 20 moves or less.

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31. The world’s largest Rubik’s Cube is located in Knoxville, Tennessee. It is three metres tall and weighs over 500kg.

Flickr: ribarnica / Creative Commons
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32. The smallest cube is 10mm wide and was made by Russian Evgeniy Grigoriev.

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33. It is fully functional and can be used like a normal cube.

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34. In 2011 Evgeniy created an even smaller cube so tiny it could only be 3D printed.

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35. The most expensive cube ever produced is the Masterpiece Cube, created by Diamond Cutters International in 1995.

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36. This actual size, fully-functional cube features 22.5 carats of amethyst, 34 carats of rubies and 34 carats of emeralds, all set in 18-carat gold, and has been valued at $1.5m.

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37. Rubik Cube obsessives are known as “Cubaholics”. There’s even been a documentary.

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38. In 1981, British pop group, The Barron Knights released a song called Mr. Rubik which appeared on their album Twisting The Knights Away. The song is about a person who is going crazy after playing a Rubik’s Cube.

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39. In 2011 Cubeworks, a Toronto collective, recreated more than 40 famous artworks with Rubik’s Cubes.

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40. There’s even been a Mario version*.

*created via Photoshop sadly, so you can’t get your hands on one.

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“If you are curious, you’ll find the puzzles around you. If you are determined, you will solve them.” – Erno Rubik.

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An earlier version of this post did not properly cite a source for the explanation of the ingenious internal mechanism that powers Rubik’s cube.

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